Monday, August 16, 2010

"True Blood" recap: Bring me the fangs of Russell Edgington!

Spoilers for this week's episode of "True Blood" are below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Russell Edgington is my new best friend. I mean, I know the guy is a psychopath who's out to destroy humanity, and that he caused our beloved Eric nearly a thousand years of pain and suffering, but come on -- you gotta love a guy who expresses his displeasure over a newscast by RIPPING THE ANCHOR'S SPINE OUT ON THE AIR!
I mean, how insanely awesome was that? I'm not sure what I liked better -- the actual spine-ripping, or the fact that Russell used the disembodied chunk of bone to gesture with throughout his subsequent speech. Whatever. The whole thing was brilliant, and a welcome reminder of why I started watching "True Blood" in the first place.
Too often this season, I've felt the show has been too much talk, not enough action. Yes, I know the past few episodes have had their share of blood and guts. But what makes this show special is its giddy willingness to go gleefully over the top and do something jaw-droppingly disgusting and/or weird. I might not have enjoyed last year's storyline about Maryann the brain-washing maenad, but I will admit that black-eyed zombie orgies aren't something you'll find on any other show.
This season we had the head-twisting Lorena sex scene and Eric's coitus-interruptus murder of Talbot last week, but nothing truly made me squeal at my TV until Russell popped up at the end of tonight's episode, ripped out that spine chunk, then dove into his gloriously deranged pro-vamp tirade. Special points go to actor Denis O'Hare, whose performance as Russell this episode was nearly operatic in its scale. He managed, as he has all season, to walk the fine line between grand and hammy and come out on the right side. His transition in that final scene, when he goes from preaching his gospel of evil to cheerfully introducing the weather girl, had me laughing uncontrollably.
I may not be a huge fan of this season, but those final moments were sheer genius. More of that, please.
Anyway, here are some more of my facts on this week's episode, "Everything is Broken."
* Even before that final moment, this was purely Denis O'Hare's episode. His grief-stricken clutching of Talbot's gooey, gory remains in the episode's early moments was both convincing and truly disgusting. And that crazed monologue to the bowl of Talbot guts outside Fangtasia was awesome -- even though it was pretty obvious that the bowl contained nothing gorier than raspberry jello (or was it strawberry? Maybe red currant jelly?).
* Other than the Russell Edgington show, this episode was just kind of OK. The Sam plot continues to annoy, as does the seemingly endless delay of divulging the source of Sookie's abilities. I couldn't care less about the Arlene plot, and Jason's bat-poop crazy love interest is really getting on my nerves.
* In fact, the only aspects of this episode, other than Russell, that I really liked were the developments in Eric and Tara storylines.
There's been a lot of earnest monologues this season, but Eric's speech to the webcam was one of the few that truly worked. We saw that he's been carrying a thousand years of pain and saw that the usually calculating Eric is desperate to bring this to an end. We also saw Pam's heartbreak at the thought of Eric carrying this burden alone. One of the best things about this season, in my view, has been Pam's larger role, and the revelation that she feels just as strongly about Eric as he felt about Godric. The dysfunctional Bill-Lorena relationship, it seems, isn't typical of a vamp and his/her maker. It really is like the bond between a parent and child.
I also like the way "True Blood" always shows that its supernatural craziness doesn't happen in a vacuum. Last season, we saw Lafayette go through post-traumatic stress after being kidnapped by vamps, and this season, Tara is still processing her ordeal with Franklin. The rape support group is a good idea (though who knows what the reaction of the group will be when she reveals the scale of what's happened to her). Tara needs to move forward.
* Having said that, can I tell you how annoyed I was that they brought Franklin back for, like, a minute and a half, just so Jason could kill him? This isn't an 80s horror movie! People can't just be brought back from the dead for shock value! And how convenient that Jason just had those wooden bullets just lying around. Lame!
* As annoyed as I am by the constant coyness about revealing the source of Sookie's light, I loved her totally cavalier attitude about finding another dead body in her parlor. I imagine that, at this point, she'd be more annoyed than shocked about a corpse.
* Though the Lafayette/Jesus storyline seems like little more than a distraction, the bit about the veggie burger with bacon did crack me up.
* Even though we lost Zeljko Ivanek's Magister this season, at least we still have Jessica Tuck's sublime Nan Flanagan.She got a few nice meaty bits this episode, the best of which was her directive to Eric to get rid of Russell: "You brought us this steaming pile of s***. You're going to make it go away." Not Russell Edgington-clutching-a-spine-chunk fabulous, but still pretty damn awesome.

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